North Hollywood, synagogue, Jewish, hate crime, photo, social media

NORTH HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA) — An eerie photo taken in front of a synagogue in North Hollywood is making its way around social media, provoking reactions of fear, anger and disgust.

A user identified as Noah Oiknine on Facebook says he took the picture himself Friday afternoon. In a post on the social media site, he recalled seeing a man with his head covered and sword in his hand making threatening gestures towards the Chabad.

Brian Levin is a domestic terrorism expert. He says tensions are high among some in the Jewish community after the mass synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh.

“We just had the worst act of anti-Semitic violence in American history,” Levin said.

“Anytime you see a picture like that, you gotta take it seriously,” he continued. “And there’s also federal laws governing interference and harassment of religious institutions and affiliated buildings.”

There have been incidents of hate crime in Los Angeles as well.

Last month, 32-year-old Mohamed Abdi Mohamed, of Seattle, was arrested on charges of assault with a deadly weapon after allegedly trying to run down two people outside of a synagogue in Hancock Park.

“Synagogue security is a big deal – as well as other houses of worship that we’re seeing nationally,” Levin added.

CBS2/KCAL9 spoke with a spokesperson for the local Council on American-Islamic Relations. They said they did not know if the person depicted in the photo has a connection to the Muslim community nor if the incident was real or a hoax; however, they said they stand in solidarity with the Jewish community and are glad no one was hurt.

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